Sat, Nov 19, 2016 - Page 8 News List

The Liberty Times Editorial: Politics, defense in the Trump era

The US elections on Tuesday last week saw the Republican Party gain control of the White House, as well as the House of Representatives and the Senate, as Donald Trump was elected president. The party also dominated the gubernatorial races, with more than half of all the governorships now under its control. The results came as a surprise to many and caused some panic in financial markets, which tend to overreact when faced with sudden political and economic changes.

The US is Taiwan’s most important ally, with whom it shares a close political and economic relationship. It is vital that the government closely follow political developments in the US — especially in terms of Trump’s policy plans and their potential effect on Taiwan — and prepare itself for changes.

Judging from Trump’s election campaign, what distinguished him from others was his unpredictability. He had no political experience, and has neither served in the public sector nor the military.

As a businessman-turned-politician, he does not play by the rules, nor does he follow political traditions. For this reason, he is often controversial and has been described by some as “unfit” for office or even “pathetic.”

Despite his unimpressive performance at the presidential debates and his expected defeat by mainstream media, Trump was elected president. His victory is a reflection of many Americans’ — especially the white working class — unhappiness with the state of the country and eagerness for change. This desire for change may be populist or irrational, but it was very strong, shocking experts, politicians and the media.

It is worth noting that aside from winning the presidential election, the Republican Party — quite surprisingly — swept to victory in other polls, a sign that the US is shifting toward right-wing conservatism.

With Trump set to become the next US president, the world is concerned with how different “Donald Trump the candidate” will be from “President Trump.”

During his campaign, Trump vowed to crack down on illegal immigration, cut taxes for the rich, repeal the Affordable Care Act, or “Obamacare,” dump the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), cancel the Paris climate agreement, make US allies share in the cost of defense provided by the US, pull out of NATO and start a trade war with China. He also humiliated women, and threatened Muslims and immigrants.

Many are concerned that once Trump implements his policies to “make America great again,” internationalism will give way to protectionism for the first time in the US since World War II, and globalization will slow down.

Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman has said that, should that happen, the world would face a new wave of economic recession, and according to the New York Times, that would put the US in a very dangerous situation.

Nevertheless, as a candidate, Trump has often changed his political position, and it is possible that his policies would not follow his earlier plans. While people have speculated about his policies, no two people have come to the same conclusions. That the stock market reacted to the news of Trump leading the vote with a sudden decline before rising again is but one example of how varied the public’s opinions are about the president-elect.

In his acceptance speech, Trump appeared gracious and presidential. Unlike how he behaved during the campaign, he was careful with his words and pledged to be “a president for all Americans.” And as Americans hit the streets to protest against his election, it is clear that, although US presidents have unrestrained power in many ways, the nation’s democratic system counterbalances that power.

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